Jackie Hunt Honored with 2020 Nan Cheney March for Justice Award

It has been a long and winding road for Jacquelyn Hunt, but her journey has shaped her into a caring, compassionate and empathetic person who goes by “Auntie Jackie” to more than just her family.

Hunt is the founder and CEO of F.O.S.T.E.R. of Dane County (Families Overcoming Struggles to Encourage Resilience), which is a nonprofit that seeks to promote and strengthen marginalized families particularly families of color through culturally relevant, strength-based, and trauma-informed services, activities, and resource provision. She made the decision to create this organization based on her vast experience in day-to-day counseling and family support services where she observed and analyzed the many barriers to providing resources and services to communities and families in need.

The Madison resident’s knowledge of formal systems like the Department of Corrections and the Department of Children and Families Services assists her as she serves her consumers and their families with navigating those systems to obtain the best possible outcome. The understanding of these systems also comes from her lived through experience.

“I am a true visionary who sees possibilities and who believes in a strength-based approach to servicing those I encounter,” Hunt said in a statement. “I am a passionate advocate assisting the disadvantaged in recognizing their strengths, developing confidence in their abilities, and creating a deep desire within them to want and realize the great potential which they are capable of.” 

Hunt’s personal testimony of recovery, redemption, and restoration lays the foundation for her work. Just the right balance necessary to support those in need and instill in them the belief that they too can overcome obstacles, triumph, and become all they wish to be. 

Along her journey, she obtained a myriad of degrees and certifications including a master of arts in counseling from Lakeland University, a bachelor’s degree in human services from Upper Iowa University, and an associate’s degree in human services from Madison College.  Hunt is a licensed clinical professional counselor and a clinical substance abuse counselor through the state of Wisconsin.

Nan Cheney was a fierce advocate for peace, social justice and the environment. A prominent Madison peace activist whose pleasant demeanor masked one tough cookie, Nan worked for decades on social justice, anti-war and environmental activism.

Congratulations Jackie! 

Rep. David Crowley Becomes First African American Elected as Milwaukee County Executive

Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee, has won the race for Milwaukee County executive after beating Sen. Chris Larson. The historic win makes Crowley the first African American to be elected to the role.

“This is a historic moment,” Crowley told WDJT-TV. “When you think about not just me winning this race, being the first African American to be elected to the Milwaukee County executive seat, but also in the city of Milwaukee where we have numerous African Americans running for executive positions.”

Crowley was sworn in as Milwaukee County executive in May. After addressing the health emergency, he said he will focus on putting people back to work.

He  serves Wisconsin’s 17th Assembly District where he represents almost 60,000 residents in the state legislature. Crowley sits on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Small Business Development, Workforce Development, Transportation, and Jobs and Economy Committees. He’s also a member of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) Board of Directors, the Chair of the Milwaukee Caucus, the Chair of the Black Caucus, and the Co-Chair of the Black and Latino Caucus. 

Along with Crowley’s work experience, he said because he’s from Milwaukee, specifically from 53206, that he’s seen both sides of the coin. Around the age of 16, Crowley began going to Urban Underground where he spent the next few years learning about himself and the community. Crowley comes from a low-income family that struggled and utilized the County’s services, so he knows how important the position is to the city. According to Crowley, the County is an extension of the State. The County provides health and human services, park maintenance and public transportation.

Crowley received his undergraduate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he studied educational policy and community studies.

NAACP Launches #WeAreDoneDying Campaign, Empowering Black and Brown Communities to Take Action Against Senseless Killings of African Americans

The NAACP has launched a campaign entitled #WeAreDoneDying aimed at exposing the inequities embedded into the American health care system and the country at large. From COVID-19 to running while Black in America, the abuse faced by people of color, particularly African Americans is devastating.

The campaign is a call-to-action and highlights the NAACP’s policy interests and supported legislation for African Americans and people of color, a large demographic that is often left out of recovery effort conversations. The integrated and interactive content will create actionable steps for people to feel empowered by demanding action from their state’s elected officials on issues such as health care, education, criminal justice, economic justice, and voting rights. 

“With crumbling economic infrastructure, our community members face tough choices as access to food, good jobs, and a quality education slips further away,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “These issues are compounded by the lack of strong leadership from the White House. In the absence of adequate guidance, Black lives are adversely affected. We will no longer stand idle as our people suffer discrimination, marginalization, and are offered as disposable for poor decisions by this Administration.” 

As the incidence of COVID-19 cases and deaths rise, the Black community is experiencing the worst outcomes. With more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country, African Americans are facing the brunt of this virus. The numbers continue to rise each day while states reopen non-essential businesses with little to no evidence that the country is ready. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the deep-seated racial disparity in America embedded in all aspects of life,” said Leon W. Russell, chair for the NAACP Board of Directors. “The NAACP Empowerment Programs’ 111 years of advocacy and fighting for the rights of Black people positions us to lead the fight for our community’s interest during this time of uncertainty.” 

Learn how you can take action with the campaign by visiting NAACP.org.

Earl Graves Sr., Founder of Black Enterprise Magazine, Dies at 85

Black Enterprise founder Earl G. Graves Sr. passed away on April 6 at the age of 85.

An icon giant in the print magazine business, Graves created an outlet that has highlighted the progression of Black Americans since the 1970’s by painting the picture of unique issues and achievements in business, entrepreneurship, politics, history and culture.

“My goal was to show them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens,” Graves wrote in his 1997 book “How To Succeed In Business Without Being White.”

The Brooklyn, New York native began with that dream and built a multimedia business empire that now delivers financial information to more than six million African Americans across print, digital, broadcast and live-event platforms. Graves also once operated Pepsi-Cola of Washington, D.C., one of the country’s largest soft-drink distributors owned by African-Americans, and is the author of the book, How to Succeed in Business Without being White, according to Black Enterprise.

Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness Welcomes New Chief Programs Officer Alia Stevenson

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, a Wisconsin based nonprofit committed to elevating Black women’s health and reducing racial health disparities, hired local health and racial equity leader Alia Stevenson to serve as the organization’s chief programs officer. Stevenson begin her new leadership role on April 6. She became the Foundation’s third full time employee.

Stevenson joins the Foundation at a critical time in its growth and on the heels of an exciting year of accomplishments including the opening of Dane County’s first Black Women’s Wellness Center earlier this year on Madison’s west side. She also arrives as the organization and wider community navigate the unanticipated challenges and instability brought on by the global Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. 

 A former Foundation Board member and volunteer, Stevenson most recently worked for local government as the City of Madison’s Organizational Development manager, and as Policy, Planning & Evaluation manager and Health Equity coordinator for Public Health Madison & Dane County. In these roles, she launched successful programming including the City of Madison’s Women’s Leadership Series and the Public Health Madison & Dane County’s health and racial equity team. 

 “I’m fortunate to step into a role that is the perfect intersection of my personal and professional passions and journey, and at such an important time,” says Stevenson. “The work of the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness is more vital than ever as we address and offer solutions to disrupt existing inequities, while confronting the added short and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis across Wisconsin and our nation. I am humbled to be a part of this critical work.”

Lisa Peyton-Caire, CEO and president of the Foundation, says the Foundation is excited to welcome Stevenson as the organization positions itself for greater impact and adjusts quickly to external challenges that will impact Black women and communities of color disproportionately.

“We are fortunate to have Alia join us and at such a crucial time where advocacy, answers, and action are needed to secure the lives and well-being of Black women and families,” says Peyton-Caire. “Alia’s wealth of knowledge, experience, and local and national relationships around health and racial equity are what we need right now to expand our ability to support Black women’s capacity to survive and thrive.”

Plans Underway for Amazon Distribution Center on Madison’s East Side 

Madison’s Common Council approved a new Amazon distribution center on the city’s east side that will provide 120 part-time jobs and 25 full-time positions. 

Meeting virtually in March, the council gave the additional approval needed for the project that was once rejected by the city’s Plan Commission. Amazon already had approval to use an existing 228,000-square foot building on Milwaukee Street as part of the facility, but needed further city approval to use a nearby piece of land for a driveway, more parking and a stormwater management facility.

The Plan Commission previously blocked that portion of the project, but the council voted 14-6 to overrule the Plan Commission.

Request for Fairness for C-19 Patients of Color

In light of reports of the overwhelmingly disproportionate deaths of African Americans, Indigenous Americans and other people of color caused by COVID-19, Blacks for Political and Social Action of Dane County, Inc. urges area politicians, and leaders and members of medical and service communities, when called upon, to provide fair and equitable medical services to patients who are victims of the ravages of institutional racism and to low-income service providers of color.   

 While viruses do not discriminate, practitioners might do so unintentionally.  We value and honor the work of medical professionals and we thank them and staff members who provide a range of critical services.  We pray that all will be cared for based on need and not on status. We ask for the Samaritan’s attention to “the least of these” in this season of trial. 

Nikole Hannah-Jones’ Essay from The 1619 Project Wins Commentary Pulitzer

The introductory essay in The New York Times Magazine’s ambitious The 1619 Project, by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the landmark project, was honored with a prestigious Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

The 1619 Project recognized the 400th anniversary of the moment enslaved Africans were first brought to what would become the United States and how it forever changed the country. It was a phenomenal piece of journalism, Poynter writes.

After the announcement that she has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Hannah-Jones told the Times’ staff it was “the most important work of my life.”

While nearly impossible, and almost insulting, to try and describe in a handful of words or even sentences, Hannah-Jones’ essay was introduced with this headline: “Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals Were False When They Were Written. Black Americans Have Fought to Make Them True.”

In her essay, Hannah-Jones also wrote: “But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of Black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage. Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom. More than any other group in this country’s history, we have served, generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role: It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.”

The 1619 Project — and Hannah-Jones’ essay, in particular — will be remembered for one of the most impactful and thought-provoking pieces on race, slavery and its impact on America that we’ve ever seen.

George Speck: Inventor of The Potato Chip

The almighty potato chip has long been the number one American snack food, enjoyed by million. Their savory flavor means no chip goes uneaten and has proven to be a culinary marvel in the world of junk food. The legendary story of its origin goes way back to 1853 when a frustrated cook kept trying to please a demanding customer.

George Speck adopted the name “Crum” after his father’s racing horse, joking that “A crumb is bigger than a speck.” He was a cook with African American and Mohawk ancestry who was born in 1822 in Saratoga, New York.

At a young age, he was working as a hunting guide and a trapper, and he worked as a cook at Cary Moon’s Lake House in Saratoga Springs along with his sister Catherine Wicks, where he honed his culinary skills. Business at the Lake House flourished because of the railroad that cut through the town, bringing in many tourists and customers.

As the widely accepted story goes, Crum was serving fried potatoes a to a very fussy customer. The wealthy customer was displeased with the thickly-cut potatoes and kept complaining every time the cook made another batch, demanding to cut them even thinner, much to Crum’s dismay. So, the annoyed chef cooked up the final batch, cut the potatoes extremely thin, fried them to a crisp and seasoned the meal with a lot of salt. To Crum’s surprise, the customer was astonished by the vigorous flavor of this never-before-tasted cuisine and found it extremely appetizing. The owner, Cary Moon, quickly rushed to promote this new meal and began serving them in paper cones and later in boxes.

Although there were cookbooks for fried potato shavings years before George Crum was even born, the alternate version of the story is that George’s sister accidentally invented the potato chips, or “Saratoga chips”, while working with her brother. She had been cutting potatoes when a thin slice fell into the fryer and was fried to a crisp. Her contribution was essential and was not forgotten.